Any Laura Ingalls Wilder fans?

(234 Posts)
moondog Sun 16-Sep-12 19:17:50

I visited the LIW house and museum in Missouri a few weeks ago and it was one of the most moving experiences ever. I made a detour of thousands of miles to see it.
If anyone loves her just as much as I do I wanted the chance to tell you about it so that you can savour every delicious detail.

Arithmeticulous Sun 16-Sep-12 19:19:55

Me me!!!!

NancyBlacket Sun 16-Sep-12 19:20:41

Tell me! I'd love to hear envy I'd love to visit one day...

SheelaNeGoldGig Sun 16-Sep-12 19:21:11

Oh yes please.

HumphreyCobbler Sun 16-Sep-12 19:22:06

please do

I would love to go there

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Sun 16-Sep-12 19:22:28

You lucky thing, I would love to visit. I am a huge LIW fan

Please tell us all about it

NoodieRoodie Sun 16-Sep-12 19:22:57

I'm insanely jealous, I re-read all the books for the hundreth time while I was pregnant and then again after DS was born.

HellonHeels Sun 16-Sep-12 19:24:12

Loved those books!

DowagersHump Sun 16-Sep-12 19:27:27

Ooh yes please - I read all the books (as well as watched the TV series) voraciously as a child/teenager although the TV was v saccharine compared to the books.

Do they stand up to adult reading?

Me, I love the books and DD has caught the bug from me!

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Sun 16-Sep-12 19:39:35

DowagersHump, I think they are well worth a reread.

I loved them as a child but it was only when I read them as an adult I realised what a difficult life they had - and you have to remember she writes with a positive spin.
For example, in the books there is no mention of a brother who dies.

NancyBlacket Sun 16-Sep-12 19:45:24

I also reread them all whilst pregnant, and still loved them. They are very positive, but I love reading about the pioneering attitude to life. Please tell us OP about your visit!

InkleWinkle Sun 16-Sep-12 19:47:06

Please tell us! My DD1 is even called Laura!

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 19:49:21

Tell meeeeeeeeeee! I love those stories and have been reading them with DS. Little house in the big woods is my favourite.

DowagersHump Sun 16-Sep-12 19:53:28

I will see if I can get them from the library or on Kindle. When I read them, the only time I was aware that their lives were a horrendous struggle was one where they had a really, really bad winter.

And here we are, worrying about swimming lessons and freddos sad

baskingseals Sun 16-Sep-12 19:55:47

i really escaped into these books. i still remember them only being able to paddle up to their ankles in the creek, and thinking it was really mean of their mum.

i've bought them for dd, who, of course, hates them. i have tried to be grown-up about this, but think i have failed. i hadn't thought of reading them again, but might do - just don't want to spoil them.

onedev Sun 16-Sep-12 19:58:04

I'd love to hear as well please grin

IslaValargeone Sun 16-Sep-12 19:59:32

Can I ask how many books there are? We recently found one in a 2nd hand shop. My dc loved it and in a moment of weakness I bought season 1 DVD.

Bunbaker Sun 16-Sep-12 20:01:23

Me! (hand up as far as it can go)

I am so jealous. I got a boxed set of the books for Christmas last year and am reading them to DD at the moment.

I first read them when I was about 11 and loved them and am enjoying them just as much now. It makes you realise how much we take for granted these days that they got so excited about receiving a couple of presents in their Christmas stocking and were happy with them. DD kept asking why such small things were such a big deal for them.

HumphreyCobbler Sun 16-Sep-12 20:01:55

the books and the series bear little resemblance to each other

Pa doesn't ever cry in the books wink

Ooh, tell us about it!


Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prarie
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
Little Town on the Prarie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years.

She also wrote about her DH's childhood in 'Farmer Boy'.

She messes about with actual events/chronology (which is occasionally heartbreaking when you find out about it later), so you can't always easily work out the order of the first three books.

Sorry: 'The Long Winter', which comes IIRC between Silver Lake and Little Town? Or between Town and Golden Years? Sorry, not quite sure!

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 20:12:12

I know - when they leave Missouri they have to go when it's cold enough that the Mississippi river to have frozen solid. In a covered wagon. Can you imagine?!

HandMini Sun 16-Sep-12 20:14:22

Such amazing books. Me, my sisters and my mum used to read and re-read them when I was a child. And yes, bloody inspirational that they set out across unknown territory in their covered wagon...amazing. The later ones when Laura is a teenager are my faves - Little Town and THGYs. I hated the TV series.

comixminx Sun 16-Sep-12 20:14:53

Love the books!

I would really like to know if the museum had any more info on the family's real life than you can find on the net - I googled loads one time (after another MN thread!) but I've still got masses of questions.

skyebluesapphire Sun 16-Sep-12 20:18:15

I am 40 and I have just reread all the books . DD just destroyed one if them though :-(

There are also a couple of books written by the daughter.

Would love to hear about the museum

TunipTheVegemal Sun 16-Sep-12 20:19:43

Would love to hear about it!

Come on Moondog, spill.

I think it's sad that Charles Ingalls line died out with the death of Rose Wilder Lane - none of his other children had children of their own.

And I seem to remember reading somewhere that Laura never visited with Ma again after the death of Pa, due to a family argument, but I only saw it mentioned once, and never again.

BertieBotts Sun 16-Sep-12 20:21:56

It's fascinating. I love how the tone changes as well, in the earlier books when Laura is ~4 and Mary is ~6 it's so innocent and everything is wondrous and new and amazing, and as she gets older she is more aware of other things going on until the last few where it's totally different.

I still haven't read all of them, I think I must start again from the beginning!

MadamGazelleIsMyMum Sun 16-Sep-12 20:22:01

Adored the books growing up. Rose Wilder Lane is the daughter, she wrote On The Way Home, telling the story of the later years. Also a book which I think was called Let The Wind Blow, technically fiction but based on her own life. Would love to hear about the museum.

spudmasher Sun 16-Sep-12 20:24:46

Big fan. Please share.

Really?! manky that seems really sad if she never visited her mother, I wonder what happened if it's true.

madam - Let the Hurricane Roar?

MissAnnersley Sun 16-Sep-12 20:28:55

I've read that too manky. Really sad.

IslaValargeone Sun 16-Sep-12 20:41:17

Gosh, didn't realise there were so many.Thanks LRD.

Woodlands Sun 16-Sep-12 20:47:37

I'm a fan too, would love to hear!

ScatterChasse Sun 16-Sep-12 20:51:41

I'd love to hear as well.

I must find the later books, I know I've read some but not all. I loved the idea of him playing the violin and singing as they went to sleep <soppy>

issimma Sun 16-Sep-12 20:52:19

Oh yes!

SeaShellsMyDogTrulySmells Sun 16-Sep-12 20:52:21

Loved the books as a child - never read them though, no idea where my copies have gone sad

Spill, would love to hear what it was like!

MadamGazelleIsMyMum Sun 16-Sep-12 20:57:33

That's it LRD!

sleeze Sun 16-Sep-12 21:01:51

Oh my! I read all the books as a teenager and love, love, loved them. I would love to visit the museum. MUST re-read....!

libelulle Sun 16-Sep-12 21:05:05

One of my fondest childhood memories is buying the first book in the series in a bookshop while on a camping holiday, aged about 7. Then when I'd finished that one, my dad got the next book out of the suitcase. And when I'd finished that one, he got out the next one... It took me about 3 books to work out that he'd bought the entire series for me! I spent the whole summer buried in them. Happy happy times smile <bookworm child>

Eglantyne Sun 16-Sep-12 21:06:39

Me! Recently reread all the books to dcs, and they were spellbound. I then bought all the books about Rose, the biography of Laura, book about all the Laura houses, and "The Wilder Life" by Wendy McClure, in which she visits all the Laura sites, even the dug-out at Plum Creek. (Wow, I do sound a bit obsessed. It's worn off again now though!)

Pleasenomorepeppa Sun 16-Sep-12 21:07:06

This thread has made me want to re-read them!! I've always remembered the snow candy! Right, off to Amazon!!

redrubyshoes Sun 16-Sep-12 21:12:25

I often wondered if there was a genetic defect in the mother's family line. Caroline and Charles had a son who died in infancy, Caroline had a brother who died in infancy and Laura had a son who died in infancy as did Rose - her daughter had a son who lived for a few months.

All the girls survived.

Right, I've tried google about the argument between Laura and Ma, and no joy ... come on, I am burning to know, does anyone else know?

I did always love the way she wrote about her relationship with her father, I thought that was lovely, especially the way she managed to put it across clearly that she wasn't very happy with her mother making her be 'ladylike' and her father would have loved a son - but still it doesn't come across as resentful or bitter on either side, just the reason why they had a strong bond.

HumphreyCobbler Sun 16-Sep-12 21:18:48

I am rather upset at the thought that Laura fell out with her mother sad

I agree LRD, there was a lovely relationship there between Laura and Pa.

showtunesgirl Sun 16-Sep-12 21:22:07

I used to LOVE these books. Need to get some in for DD when she's older!

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Sun 16-Sep-12 21:23:31

I've got a biography of LIW on the Kindle, I might reread it tonight to see if there is any mention of what happened between Laura and Ma

redrubyshoes Sun 16-Sep-12 21:25:07

I will try to find the article I read about the feud between Laura and her mother.

The long and the short of it was her mother was a devoutly religious woman who was also deeply xenophobic and Laura and particurlary her daughter Rose were open minded and embraced all cultures.

Rose veered towards communism and was planning to live in Albania shortly before she died.

me too - massive fan!

I'd be really interested, ruby. I guess you can see that about Ma, she is always very racist about 'Indians' whereas some bits with Laura would make you cringe now, but basically you can tell she doesn't agree with her mother's views.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Sun 16-Sep-12 21:28:53

Looking at the timescale Pa died in 1902 but Ma didn't die until 1924. That's a long time to fall out with no reconcilliation sad

MooncupGoddess Sun 16-Sep-12 21:31:03

I love them too. Started with Little House in the Big Woods when I was five so really grew up with Laura.

I have always been a bit disappointed when I've read about the real facts behind the stories, though - various liberties with the truth and the whole controversy about whether Laura or Rose was the primary author.

skyebluesapphire Sun 16-Sep-12 22:09:04

The books I have are West From Home and On The Way Home

One is Laura's diary about the trip to Missouri and the other is letters she wrote to Almanzo.

vesela Mon 17-Sep-12 10:39:04

Also loved them. I have LHITBW waiting for DD. (It's a pity, though, that the paperback version available now seems a bit stiff to handle compared to the ones I had). In the meantime I bought her a couple of the "picture book" versions (Summertime in the Big Woods, Winter Days in the Big Woods) and they're very good.

redrubyshoes - an interesting point about the differences in outlook between Laura and her mother. That may be why I hadn't remembered the books as particularly anti-Indian - I was looking through Laura's eyes rather than her mother's.

I thought Rose was a libertarian rather than a communist, though?

Whitamakafullo Mon 17-Sep-12 10:45:11

I've got a biography of Laura, I need to go and read it now. I love these books, I'm going to start reading them to my DD smile

mooncup - I know what you mean, but in a way I don't mind it. I can understand her not wanting to talk about her baby brother dying, for instance. I didn't understand why she says Mary goes blind from scarlet fever if it was really measles, though.

But on the authorship thing, though, I quite like the idea of two women collaborating on a book, when I don't think of it in sneery terms about 'ghostwriting' which you often see.

Takver Mon 17-Sep-12 13:28:54

Its interesting, I've never thought of the books as particularly anti-Indian either. I'm thinking for example in Little House on the Prairie where Ma expresses what I imagine were pretty typical racist views for the time, but Pa points out that the white settlers have been taking over the native people's land, for example, and are the wrong-doers themselves.

Whitamakafullo - is your biography good? I'd love to know the title if so.

Agree with LRD that a mother and daughter co-operating on a book should be celebrated rather than criticised.

InkleWinkle Mon 17-Sep-12 16:29:51

Moondog are you coming back to tell us about it? smile

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 17-Sep-12 16:38:46

Somebody put up a really interesting link on another thread, about how Rose had romanticised and Laura resisted but gave in - and Laura was much less nice and indeed less well-educated than you'd think from the books.

I always thought the Mary-Laura relationship was done in a very passive-aggressive sneaky kind of 'Brutus was an honourable man kind of way. There are lots of things like 'Mary was a good girl, and Pa had told them not to move, so when the bad Indians came and started trying to kill the dog, Mary sat still like a good girl and did not try to help the dog, but Laura could not sit and be a good girl while the dog was being killed, so she bravely but naughtily got up and saved the dog's life'.

I mean, not that, but like that.

TheApprentice Mon 17-Sep-12 16:49:02

I'm another fan who would be very interested to hear what Moondog has to say. I still remember getting Little House in the Big Woods in my Christmas stocking one year.

Yohoahoy Mon 17-Sep-12 16:54:27

ooh yes, big fan here - I even have the cookery book blush

I have always wanted to visit the museum so would love to hear about it smile

Bookbrain Mon 17-Sep-12 16:55:21

My fave bit is when Almanzo Wilder gives Laura his name card and not Nellie smile

And do you remember the house they move into when they get married? I still want a big pantry with little handmade drawers to keep my flour and sugar and salt and pepper in. Why did I marry a man who can't do woodwork? sigh

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 17:04:36

I vividly remember Laura moving from the family house when she married Almanzo, and the cake tasting like sawdust in her mouth when she realised that it was for ever. Seemed such a momentous change. I felt more for Laura at that moment than I did when I left my own parents home for the last time.

Ohhh .... but that's the bits I love, theoriginal! grin I always liked that you knew Laura secretly thought she was being better and she didn't see why Mary got all the credit!

(Erm ... I am a middle child too ... grin blush)

About her education, though ... I always squirmed in sympathy when she was faced with a class and three out of five of them were older than her! Scary.

I am always slightly disappointed that in photos Almanzo is really, really not good looking (though I reckon from photos standards of what's pretty have changed quite a lot). I kinda secretly wanted her to marry Cap Garland and you get the sneaking suspicion she had a thing for him too.

Hullygully Mon 17-Sep-12 17:13:57

ooo ooo me too.

Chrestomanci Mon 17-Sep-12 17:31:51

this the article you were looking for?

<another slightly obsessed fan> I'm reading very gentle, comforting books at the moment as I'm Pg, but REALLY enjoying finding out about the lives of some of my favourite authors (although as they are largely very sad it does undo some of the good of the gentle books smile). It's enough to turn you into a raving feminist...

mignonette Mon 17-Sep-12 17:36:26

I have this cookbook -

I have always loved her writing and that of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. My grandpa built me a trundle bed and my grandmother made me a 'pioneer' style dress, smock and sun hat which I practically lived in as an 8 year old. I can still recite huge chunks of the books from memory, such is the amount of re-reading both in childhood and adulthood.

I have several biographies of Laura and her family and was so upset when I read about Ma and Pa's little son who sadly died.

I'd love to hear everything OP!

Chrestomanci Mon 17-Sep-12 17:36:27
mignonette Mon 17-Sep-12 17:39:45
moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 17:54:50

Oh how lovely that there are so many of you.
Gather around while I fix us some hot coffee and salt pork. grin

Ok, brief background is that I have always loved LIW and read her books over and over as a child and indeed an adult. A few years ago (thanks to MN conversation) I got more interested in her life as an adult and found out more about the numerous sites associated with here. The most important is argualby, the one that seems least important as it is the house she and Almanzo built and where she lived after the stories ended but it is here that she wrote the books and where all the important artefacts are kept.

This is where I went-Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield Missouri.

Over the years I have spent many summers in the Staes on sort of working holiday and this year we took the children for 6 weeks. Beforehand I read them all nine books (we finished the last the day before we flew) and as I read to them each night, even my dh crept in to listen and they were all as enchanted as I was. So when I told my dh that, instead of the beach hoilday we had planned, we would be going to Rocky Ridge farm, he happily agreed.

I can't beging to describe how amazing it was. It is just a little amateurish outfit run by elderly women, but that is what makes it so special. It has everything there you can imagine, Pa#'s fiddle, Mary's braille slates, the girls' quilts, the little jewellery box-cases and cases of lovely things. I began to cry as I went in (I am NOT that sort of person) and couldn't stop for half an hour. It was so overwhelming.

SheelaNeGoldGig Mon 17-Sep-12 18:00:23


I'd love to go someday.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:01:22

<blows nose and carries on>

Every scrap of the house was built by Almanzo and it grew and grew as they prospered over the years. It is exactly as it was and the people running it told me upstairs is full to the brim of more stuff that they haven't room to exhibit. There will shortly be a new museum.

As many of you know, she began to write seriously only at a late age, with her daughter's encouragement. Rose was for a time, the seconf highest paid journalist in the States, and the sotry of how she nurtured her mother's talent, only to be eclipsed by it is extremely interesting and complex. As Rose grew wealthy, she built another fancy house near the old one for her parents and got them to move in, while she took over the farmhous. Then after 7 years she left and they moved straight back in!

Rose was a trailblazing feminist, whizzing aronud the place, hanging out in Albania and doing all sorts of stuff women didn't do in those days.
Many of the people at the house/museum knew her when they were children. I bought a sunbonnet there (which I wear after a G&T or two) and on my kitchen table I have some hickory nuts from the farm. It overwhelms me to see them there.

The museum folk don't like the book 'The Wilder Life' (it is on sale there) and told me they thoguht it made fun of them. I diasagreed with them and told them it was simply about people looking at her throguh a fresh light. I loved it. She reminded me of me, and reading it a few months ago made me decide to go and visit.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:05:35

They like Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder best and I finished it last night and enjoyed it very much.
If you could only see her lovely stone chimney and tiny little bespoke kitchen Almanzo made for her with a lovely view as she hated making bread! Her little writing desk! The beds they died in! Finally, their grave in the Mansfilef cemetery a mile or so away.

Speaking ot the guides was momentous in itself. They told me stories of people turning up from all over the world. We tored with a group of Mennonites so at one stage it was like we had gone completely back in time.

Then we had a picnic in a grove by the house.
It was the best part of my time in the States, it beat even the week we spent later on in the summer in NYC.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 18:09:42

Pa's fiddle? The quilts they made? <moved>

They were tiny weren't they? Both of them.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 18:11:45

I would be overwhelmed too. Those books were terribly important to me as a child.

I was always terribly impressed by how skilled these people had to be. House building, pig killing and butchery (I thought of Laura roasting the pig tail when we butchered our own pigs for the first time), hunting, cooking, farming. They had to do it all or they would have nothing.

Chandon Mon 17-Sep-12 18:14:42

Tell me more.

Those books are my comfort haven, when dh sees me read little house books he knws I am down or sick and is especially kind to me.

I think they are magical as they really transport you to a different time and you get to meet real people. I love so much about it, I love her strong personality most. I grew up with Laura Ingalls Wilder ( and Jo from little women, and Lizzie Bennett ) as my role models. I liked it that she refused to say she would obey Almanzo in the wedding ceremony. Was she a bit f a feminist? ....

Bit sad about how hard her life was once she married.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:15:15

Who was tiny?
Or what?
The quilts?
Or them? grin

You can see Mary's tiny little (adult) shoes and the beadwork she did at the college for the blind.
I couldn't even continue reading to my kids when I got to the part about Mr Edwards walking 40 miles iwh Christmas presents for them.

I love all that di it yourself stuff.
I was running a grist mill this summer in the States. That was ace.
What is all this about butchering your own pigs?
I want to do that.

Tommy Mon 17-Sep-12 18:16:41

big fans here too - I would love to go there!
I bought a set when I was pregnant too and read them to all my DSs. We have them on audio book and love listening to them in the car. DH and I always exchange a hmm when Ma's rather less than tolerant views come out!!

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:17:37

Chandon, it wasn't sad.
She was happy. They had a good life.

Also intersting is how Laura and Rose made adjustments for the sake of narrative, omitting or collapsing events. They left Walnut Grove (Plum Creek) and went to run a hotel in Burr Oak, Iowa, then came back. A little brother diea and was buried there.

Yes, so sad that none of the girls had children. Rose left all royalties to a young lad she semi adopted and now his daughter gets the lot and doesn't help out with the museum in Manson.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 18:18:07

them grin

Laura was under five foot wasn't she?

The bit about Mr Edwards gets me too.

Butchering your own pigs is GREAT. We made black pudding and brawn and everything. This year the pigs are rather small so have had a stay of execution.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:18:53

God yes, Ma complaining about stinking Indians.
In 'Farmner Boy' a terrifying brutal part when the teacher gets out a huge bullwhip to deal with a big group of rough boys who want to beat him up (and actually killed the last teacher.)

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:20:05

HC,my neighbour has pigs and we get her sausages and what have you but she said she gets too fond of them.
I have learning how to smoke meat on my todo list this year.
I'll leave making bullets to 2013.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 18:23:05

I don't get fond of them because I keep the meat idea firmly in my mind.

However DS has named them this year which is rather a disaster.

I cravenly hide when they are being taken off for slaughter. the first year we had them done at home to get the blood and I hid from that too blush

Chandon Mon 17-Sep-12 18:25:33

But moondog, they must have been fairly stinky as they wore fresh skunk skins, right? ( die hard fan here)

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:26:30

Yes indeed.
I thought so too.
No point being PC about a fact.

<hard core fan>

Tommy Mon 17-Sep-12 18:27:45

they were stinky but no need for Ma's "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" - certainly less saccharin than her persona in the TV progs!

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:28:43

Oh God, tv version is hardly worth comment.
It was another time with another set of attitudes.

Chandon Mon 17-Sep-12 18:31:01

Fair enough Tommy!

I never watched the tv series as I did not want the images in my head superimposed, I once saw a bit, pa did not even have a beard, I switched off.

mignonette Mon 17-Sep-12 18:34:31


Lucky, lucky children to have you as their

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 18:49:07

Very wise Chandon.
Thank you Mignon.
It is all for entirely selfish reasons as I revisit my childhood.
I have just read them a real weepy about Helen Keller I loved in my youth.

piprabbit Mon 17-Sep-12 19:00:24

Thank you for this thread.
I've loved reading LIW over the years. I adore the way the books get more complex (in terms of ideas and language) as the girls grow older, so that you can start reading Little House in the Big Woods at primary age and then sort of keep pace with Laura as she grows up.

I love Ma's berry like buttons on her beautiful dress at the maple dance.
Laura becoming a teen, with bangs and the ridiculous fad for printed calling cards.
I wished Pa was my dad for a while.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:04:40

The calling cards are in the museum!

Isn't she adorable?

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:05:23
moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:07:59

The house that Almanzo built.
I have stood on that porch and wept.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:11:38

thanks so much for this! I had forgotten how much I loved LIW as a child and will order them for the DCs.

Am blush that hadn't realised there was a museum! <<adds to bucket list>>

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:15:53

How ya doing' ilmd?

orangeandlemons Mon 17-Sep-12 19:19:03

There are reruns of the series on one of the Sky channels. I LOVE watching them, and always hum the theme tune.

I also put the Anne of Green Gables stories up there with the Little house on the Prarie books. I loved them both

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:21:29

Oh LOVE Anne.
I shall visit Prince Edward island next.
My long suffering dh always most tolerant of my expeditions.

Japanese and Germans love both, thanks largely to mass shipments of them to both countries post WW2 in attempt to show them Yanks were not total shits.

piprabbit Mon 17-Sep-12 19:23:55

The older Anne books have some very sad story lines; Matthew's death; the lady who is caring for her brain damaged husband and had to decide whether to risk surgery which might turn him back into the violent oaf that he was pre-accident; the friend who is writing his life story before he dies; the loss of Anne's baby.


moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:30:02

And Katy books!
In retrospect, she is a bit of a prig but loved all the detail about clothes and travelling trunks and whatnot.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 19:35:08

YY to Anne and Katy. Loved them both. Would love to go to PE Island, it sounded absolutely beautiful. I wonder if it still is?

orangeandlemons Mon 17-Sep-12 19:36:14

Oh the loss of Anne's baby! I was thinking about that the other night. Was he called Gem?

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Mon 17-Sep-12 19:41:57

The baby who died was Joyce, Jem was her eldest son

thewhistler Mon 17-Sep-12 19:42:58

I love them too. Have always wanted to go there.

I always wondered how Mary coped after Laura had gone and Ma died, as there was noone on her intellectual level.

And Rose was obviously an editor of genius, but not such a good writer as Laura.

I have been reading the background that I can get hold of. As you say, some of the changes are heart breaking.

I've never managed to work out how many Wilder children there were. There are extra ones in at least one family photo. What happened to them all?

And I noted even as a child that although Ma hated Indians, perhaps not surprising not only given the period and her background but the fairly recent massacres, she and they were fine about the black doctor who cares for them when they get malaria. And I have always assumed that uncle George fought for the north.

Lovely to find others who can quote chapter and verse.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Mon 17-Sep-12 19:43:44

I love the Anne and Katy books - it was only via MN I discovered that there were several Katy books (5 I think) and I read them recently.

When I went to University one of my friends had the complete Anne set (I had only read the first two) and I can remember spending a weekend just sat in my room reading them one after the other

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Mon 17-Sep-12 19:45:36

In Farmer Boy there are Almanzo, Royal, Eliza and Alice but I think were at least 2 other siblings

thewhistler Mon 17-Sep-12 19:50:09

Am an Anne fan too, but also Emily. Did you know that Colleen Mccullough plagiarised a whole chunk of an LMM book called - I think- The blue castle?

Katy I find more tedious but feel sorry she never had children, yes I know its not real, and discovered more of them on my kindle.

Did Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm ever marry and was it Alan Ladd?

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 19:50:59

Tonnes of Wilders.
Eliza was Laura's teacher for a while and horrid to her (made her rock the desk) but also v tough. She had a homesterad claim as a lone woman.
I asked at the museum about how Almanzo asnd rest of family took to description of Eliza but he said it was deserved.
She persuaded his resonably well off parents to move to Loiusiana where they lost a tonne of $$$.

CheerfulYank Mon 17-Sep-12 20:04:33

I love, love, love her. And I live in Minnesota, I really ought to go to the museum here!

CheerfulYank Mon 17-Sep-12 20:06:43

Whistler shock She did?! I adore the Blue Castle!

Bunbaker Mon 17-Sep-12 20:07:25

This has to be my favourite MN thread ever. I shall now go and browse through all the links. I shall expand my Christmas wish list to include all the books I haven't got.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 20:13:44

I have always wondered about family relationships after the description of nasty Miss Wilder was published by Laura. I had forgotten that she was the cause of the family losing their money.

I liked the first Emily book a great deal, but thought that the other two were weak.

moondog this is absolutely lovely. Thank you so much for this thread. I am loving it and re-living the books in my head (I must dig them out but they're in boxes propping up our sofa atm!).

I am so glad it was the way you describe - you could imagine it being all commercial and schmaltzy, and I'm really glad it wasn't.

As for Anne ... I love her too. I actually like that the books are so sad (though surely Rilla of Ingleside is the real tear jerker, what with it being WWI?), because she does it beautifully and it feels very real. This is going to sound stupid, but the bit where Anne slightly shocks her religious neighbours who're insisting she'll see her baby in heaven by saying she can imagine her at the age she would really be - that really struck a chord with me.

I read earlier today Almanzo had an older sister who'd left home before he was very old, and a younger brother born when he was nearly grown up, so I think that's why there aren't more in Farmer Boy. But then Almanzo's age is odd anyway, isn't it, something funny going on there.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Sep-12 20:29:29

My class 2 teacher read Little House on the Prairie to us when I was 6 and I then read all the others myself - I remember totally burying myself in them. I stopped when Laura was a grown up (odd child, and slightly precocious- didn't like books where the main character was either a grown up or an animal). I bought the box set last Xmas for me for the DTDs. They adored the picture books when they were smaller and I'm just waiting for the right time to start LHITBW with them. We have looked at the Little House website and they loved the whole family tree thing- the books about Caroline and her mother and her mother as girls. I never watched it on TV. I would really like to read a decent biography- what's my best bet?

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 20:30:08

Me too but no it isn'ty! Museum is awful 70s extension, the peopel working there are really old (and the one who shows you around the house is snappy to the point of rudeness). Exhibition distincly amateur in terms of display. They get no govt. funding. Can you imagine!!
Almanzo was 10 years older than Laura.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 20:31:24

Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder.
See earleir link.
For a long time, the key authority on her was a boy who did a pamphlet on her as a school project when 14.

I have the cookbook too.

I'm really surprised they get no funding ... you'd think they'd be thrilled to make her into a 'national treasure' or whatever it would be in the US.

I know Almanzo was 10 years older in real life (well assuming his birth date is right) - but in the books he is only a few years older, and she also says he lied about his age so as to get a farm, so it's never very clear how old he is. Is that all just made up?

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 20:37:32

No. She does say in books he is 10 years older but when he makes a claim on a homestead she says he is 19 when in reality was 21 or 22.
Dramtic license.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Sep-12 20:37:42

Thanks Moondog. I'll get over to Amazon.

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 20:39:12

Museum funding in the US isn't the same as here - there are far fewer publicly funded museums, lots more independent museums.

Ahhh, I see. I wonder why ... maybe she wished he was closer to her age. I found it so sad that her whole family died so long before her. Is it daft that I find it sadder that Mary died so long before her, than Almanzo?

tunip - ah, I see, thank you.

SheelaNeGoldGig Mon 17-Sep-12 20:53:38

Which is the one that comes after 'the first 4 years'. I think maybe written by Rose or from her point of view? Their journey to Rocky Ridge.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 21:10:40

Only the childhood books are chronological and part of a set.
That manuscript was one her daughter found after her death.
It's pretty dull actually, not written in same style as the books. Meant for an adult audience if at all.
In the museum btw, there is the glass breadplate that is one of the few things Laura and Almanzo salvage from the fire that destroys their home (just after their baby boy dies).
Also the clock Almanzo bought for them which is worn away on the face from 50 years of Almanzo winding it up. It still keeps perfect time.
Pa's fiddle is played once a year.
We watched a video (!) of it being played.

SheelaNeGoldGig Mon 17-Sep-12 21:17:29

I'd have cried too.

I really want to go. I'd love to go to DeSmet too.

I wonder how Pa got the money for a good fiddle (which it surely must be to last this time and be play-able?). Do you know?

I am getting very fan-girly over all this. smile

CheerfulYank Mon 17-Sep-12 21:18:42

I love, love, love Anne as well. PEI is my dream vacation!

I've always thought Almanzo was sort of devilishly handsome...kind of a twinkle to his eye!

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 21:20:42

Almanzo very quiet-apparently Laura was very bossy all their lives together.
Was mad rumour that violin was a Strad, but museum states it was mass produced German one.

I find it fascinating, thinking of a life largely devoid of shopping and money, two things which define and imprison us now so much.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 21:23:25

Dh is a fiddle player. I try to make him learn all the same tunes grin I don't get very far. The whole thing about the importance of music is interesting though. If you didn't play you didn't get any. Remember how exciting it was when they afforded an organ for Mary?

LaundryFairy Mon 17-Sep-12 21:24:27

DS has just recreated the wagon river crossing scene in LEGO (looks great - complete with the dog Jack being swept away!)

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 21:25:05

I read once that she changed her own age for the book because she was embarrassed about having been married so young and didn't want people to think she was a 'child bride'.

LaundryFairy Mon 17-Sep-12 21:26:58

Always felt a personal connection to those stories as my Great Grandpa was a homesteader in the Canadian prairies (and later a sherif!)

iknowwho Mon 17-Sep-12 21:27:51

I never knew Laura Ingalls was a real person. blush
I vaguely remember Litle House on the Prarie from way back when I was a kid but didn't know until now it was based on fact!

LaundryFairy Mon 17-Sep-12 21:29:01

Cheerful - do try to get to PEI - it is so very beautiful.

There's a bit in the books, isn't there, when she's shocked by a 13 (14?) year old bride?

When I read them I assumed at 18 she was a perfectly normal age to get married.

EvilTwins Mon 17-Sep-12 21:33:33

How old was she when she got married then?

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 21:37:39

18 according to Wiki, I don't know why but I always thought she was younger than that.

Kveta Mon 17-Sep-12 21:38:48

loved the books - my wee sister adored them, must forward her some of the articles linked here

EvilTwins Mon 17-Sep-12 21:38:49

That would be pretty normal for that time then, wouldn't it?

showtunesgirl Mon 17-Sep-12 21:39:47

I'm an Anne fan too. Do you lot like the Story Girl too?

thewhistler Mon 17-Sep-12 21:40:57

Is there a proper LIW song book? I have hunted for all the tunes Pa played and can't find them all, esp the Christmas carols and the songs she sang at singing school, oh childhood's pleasure's very great, etc. And I want the readers with the spelling and the recitations. Where do j get them?

Cheerful, yes I think it's the Ladies of Missolonghi.

I thought Laura suffered because all Ma's attention went on Mary, always. It seemed to me that she, Laura, was intellectually pretty brilliant but could never please her Ma. Who wild have seen her as a threat and regretted the loss of the only son.

I always thought there was a possibility if Grace Going to the Bad.

Have you read Rose's account of how she was nearly poisoned by her ain't by marriage, when the wilders went to Louisiana and had to be rushed out of town? Clearly Laura did not fit in there.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 17-Sep-12 21:41:14

I love the Story Girl. In fact I think it is the best of the lot. So idyllic.

I rather hate the fact that Cecily has to die young though sad

She's 15 at the start of Happy Golden Years so the book does rattle along at a fair pace, doesn't it!

I suspect it would be normal for then, but I thought it was normal for now when I was little.

I don't know Story Girl - who's it by?

whistler - yeah, Grace was 'spoilt', wasn't she? grin I remember the swan-down coat pieced together with Ma's dress ... clearly the height of sophistication ...

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 21:43:18

The 'child bride' thing is here (second last para). He started to court her when she was 15 and he was 25 - I can see how she might have later worried that would look dodgy.

Nanniejo Mon 17-Sep-12 21:43:52

I loved the TV series and my darling boys gave me a couple of DVD sets for Mothers Day and my birthday, but vacated the room every time I watched them!! Hadn't thought about reading the books- must do that now!

thewhistler Mon 17-Sep-12 21:46:14

Story Girl, another LMM.

LMM not really evident on Kindle. I have her diaries, which are so depressing.

Would it have been unusual then?

showtunesgirl Mon 17-Sep-12 21:46:26 It's another book by LM Montgomery. Sara is the Story Girl in it and she is fantastic!

tunip, what's the title of that NY times piece? It won't let me at it without logging in but if I google the title I think I'll be able to.

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 21:49:29

I found it by googling 'Laura Ingalls Wilder child bride' and it was the first hit. It's 'Real life in the little house' by Eden Ross Lipson, Aug 2nd 1998.

Got it, thank you.

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 22:05:20

I don't know whether this link will work but it's the bit about it in 'Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder'. And yes, it says that it was a normal age of marriage and normal age gap for that time and place.

thewhistler Mon 17-Sep-12 22:06:56

I don't think 18 would have been at all unusual, for a pioneer or not. Ma must have been about the same age or younger. Generally no sooner than 2 years after puberty, but puberty often delayed by poor diet etc. A much stricter code of morals than among eg Dorset labourers, thanks to the Mayflower etc.

Yes, that swansdown coat. And Grace having a tantrum when she couldn't go to the fourth of July celebrations.

How they managed I don't know. There was a fascinating book given to NT mother about Kansas pioneers and it showed them in dugouts, with clothes made from grain sacks. The wilders always had normal fabric.

aJumpedUpPantryBoy Mon 17-Sep-12 22:07:37

All of the Anne books and lots of other LMM are available for Kindle here
I have lots of them and read them on holiday this year

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:08:13

LaundryGirl, how exciting! Did/does she tell you any stories?
In Becoming LIW, author refers to events when Laura gets famous when she attended concerts at which all 'her' music was played.

At the museum, you can see her teaching certificate, also the lace hankerchief Ida Brown tucked into her hand as she and Alamnzo got married (in Ida's front room).

You can also get facsimiles of all the school books they used.
I wish I'd got them now.
I went nuts on books and sunbonnets so was trying to rein it in grin

Poledra Mon 17-Sep-12 22:09:19

Am currently reading LHOTP to DD2 (6-yo), and she's got Plum Creek lined up waiting . 8-yo DD1 has read up to Silver Lake but has decided to wait a bit for the others as she found it harder than the previous books to read. I hugely enjoy reading these books aloud to the children and am very jealous of you, moondog - thanks for telling us about your trip, though!

Anne of GG also wonderful - I remember the bit about her 'seeing' little Joyce at the age she should be. Just after Joyce died, Anne was weeping to Cap'n Jim that she was frightened that she wouldn't know Joyce if she saw her again in heaven.

^"But she won't be my baby," said Anne, with trembling lips. "Oh, she may be, as Longfellow says, `a fair maiden clothed with celestial grace'--but she'll be a stranger to me."

"God will manage better'n that, I believe," said Captain Jim. ^

<sniffs a bit>

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:11:09

I had to share Poledra.
If doing so gives you even 5% of the pleasure it gave me to go, then you will be in heaven.

Lip trembling at your excerpt.

TunipTheVegemal Mon 17-Sep-12 22:12:45

Did you say there were quilts Moondog? What were they like?

poledra - oh, yes.

That makes me sniff a bit too.

And then later on she tells someone (Leslie? Mrs Cornelia?) that when she looks at Jem she can see Joyce who would have been about toddling.

It's sad but such a beautiful thing to write.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:15:48

They were pretty basic as you would expect. One was a fairly primitive but beautiful 'crazy paving' style one made out of scraps.
I have hand sewn 3 kingsize quilts and about 6 single ones as a direct result of LIW and LHOP.
<nutter fan alert>

Btw, if I am reading it right from Tunip's link to 'Becoming Laura Ingalls', Ma had Mary when she was about 23/4, whereas Laura had Rose at 19 - I wonder if that was partly why she felt so young? Especially since her mother is always presented as being more mature than she manages to be.

moondog - ooh! Nice! What are your quilts like?

I am just getting into quilting and very excited you've done so many.

LaundryFairy Mon 17-Sep-12 22:20:53

Hi Moondog - I never got to meet my Great Grandpa (the sherif) but my Grandma is still alive and sharp as a tack. She has told me many stories about the constant fear of prairie fires and how the homestead was saved once by some hastily plowed firebreaks. Also told me about how all homesteaders would welcome in any passerby for food and to stay the night as there were no towns. The children never knew who might be sleeping in their tiny shack of an evening! The nearest town was 25 miles away - a two day journey to get supplies or go to the doctor. She also talked about how cold it was - Great Grandma would keep a flat iron on the stove and use it to melt the thick frost on the inside of the window to see out. The children had to play on cardboard boxes or the kitchen table because the ground was so cold. I'm so in awe of all of the people who homesteaded in such treacherous conditions.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:26:40

Laundry, you should get her writing. Fascinating stuff.
Museum folk reckoned there was a huge upsurge of interest in this era and back to basics stuff, probably in view of austerity measures.

LRD, quiltmaking is very addictive. I like very simple old style ones and prefer to handsew and use cotton batting. There are some machine made polyester horrors out there. I like the meditative nature of it. It kept me sane when cooped up in a terrible winter in a faraway land when my children were tiny.

Speaking of which, I visited this quilt museum in Kentucky on the way to Rocky Ridge. Most contemporary and while technically dazzling, not really my thing but some gorgeous old ones and also some really interested ones where a well known bloke (gay obviously) has used old half finished quilts to make new ones. I liked that.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:28:24

I do apoolgise.This thread is becoming a 'What I did on my holidays' job.
Unintentionally but I did see some wonderful places including this incredibly lovely Shaker Village.

I am wasted on the 21C.

Well, you started it moondog! It's a lovely thread. smile

I love quilting - I did one for my baby niece but it was just tiny stars, fun to do and easy. I'm trying to do something harder and more interesting now.

It's very 'Laura', your description of the 'terrible winter'!

LaundryFairy Mon 17-Sep-12 22:32:42

Luckily we have lots of letters written by Great Grandpa and Great Grandma as well as accounts from my Grandma and her older sister. My Dad loves family history and has gathered a lot of it together. It has been great being reading through some of it with DS, and he is so thrilled to have a direct connection to this part of history.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:33:20

I think the nicest are the simplest to be honest.
I bought this really interesting book at the museum, exploring the theory that slaves used to hang quilts out by thier cabins to give out secret messages to runaway slaves (as you probably know, the patterns all have different names).

Yes, it was a terrible winter in the depths of Kurdistan with two tiny children and snow so bad i once didn't leave the flat for thre days.
Did nowt but read, breastfeed and sew. Then one day I found MN and it saved my sanity and probably my marriage!

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:34:45

LF how great.
Compare to the legacy our generation will leave behind.

Drove to work.
Hunched over computer
Went to Tesco
Came home
Watched crap on tv
Went to bed

It's no cvontest is it?

I have just finished rereading the LHOTP books from On The Banks of Plum Creek, and then found this thread! I loved these as a child, and still love them. I'm hooked on the tv series too, even though it is so far from the actual story.

That's an amazing idea (about slave quilts). And eeek! to winter in Kurdistan.

I love Lucy Boston's quilts, which aren't really simple but often look as if they are until you see how she's done them. I don't like ones that don't have symmentry, for some reason.

FunnysInLaJardin Mon 17-Sep-12 22:37:07

Love her! I read all of her books as a child. And now I want to read them again. Must salvaged them from my parents house.

moondog Mon 17-Sep-12 22:41:01

LRD, just checked her and her lovely house and quilts out.
Never heard of her before.
Another complete treasure I must add to my list of places to visit.
How interesting!

LaundryFairy Mon 17-Sep-12 22:44:43

I agree with you Moondog. - I feel very sheepish when I whinge about the minor inconveniences of my life when I think about their lives. My great Aunt, in her account, wrote about her excitement at Christmas when given a new doll and a stocking filled with an orange, an apple, candy and nuts. She wrote:

"In looking back I realize we were blessed with wonderful parents, and a loving and secure home life. There were few outside activities but we always had good books to read, games to play, music and a happy atmosphere. Dad always found time to do things with us, and Mother was always there to kiss away our hurts, and to comfort us in fears and troubles. When I see the pressures on present day children, and the conditions they have to contend with, I am grateful I grew up when I did."

Makes me go all teary-eyed when I read it!

zzzzz Mon 17-Sep-12 23:12:18

Moondog crazy LIW fan here too. Thank you for a lovely escapist thread, just what I needed this evening.

Off to find some quilting porn to go to bed with. grin

Oh wow - so many of you! I thought I was quite alone until I read this thread. I wrote my dissertation on the Little House books and have a blog that is (loosely) inspired by them.

Moondog, your trip sounds amazing! Last year we went to Pepin, Walnut Grove (I paddled in Plum Creek - I get goosebumps, just remembering it) and we stayed at the De Smet homestead. It was AMAZING! Dd wore my old Laura dress, apron and sunbonnet and flounced about the place like a little pioneer girl. I've brainwashed her, so she loved it too.

I blogged the trip too. Will link if anyone's intetested.

Dh bought me the book 'Little House, Long Shadow: the effect of the Little House books on American culture' for Christmas. I'm reading it now.

Dd got a tin mug, candy cane, heart-shaped biscuit and American penny in her stocking last year. She loved it, bless her.

Viewofthehills Mon 17-Sep-12 23:50:23

Yes Georgian, please link.
I thought it was just me.They were the first books I saved up and bought myself.
DD's nowhere near as enchanted as me, sadly.

Your blog sounds fascinating, Georgian - please do link to it.

JoInScotland Tue 18-Sep-12 00:22:23

I haven't read all of the thread, but someone suggested that there was some sort of genetic problem with the family regarding male infant mortality. Boy babies are generally more frail that girl babies.

My grandmother had her fourth and last son (also had four daughters) during World War II and he died as an infant. My mother (daughter 3) had a son at age 16 who died, from cot death. My sister's second son died in infancy, I believe he had a birth defect where his intestines were mostly outside he body when he was born. My second oldest niece's first baby, a boy, died in infancy. You can imagine how nervous I was when my son was born!

Is there a lot of cot death in my family? Are we unusual? I don't know. But I think people talk about these things more than they did in the old days - even in my family I knew I was never to mention my oldest brother, ever. And I do think that people understand the causes better than in previous generations.

mavornia Tue 18-Sep-12 00:23:48

I've been watching the DVD series at 6am when ds3 wakes - I love snuggling him on my lap for an hour before the rest of the house gets up.

Must reread the books now

I've been getting all misty eyed over Michael Landon and bitterly resenting the fact that i dont have a pioneer husband with a kind face and twinkly eyes

As a child, I loved them. I remember them being the first series I read, and my mother had all the Laura Books, then the Rose ones, then they came out with books about her mother as a child, then her grandmother and her great-grandmother in Scotland. My mother had them all I remember reading them repeatedly.

As an adult, I wobble. Still good stories, but so many problems I can now see - Pa talking about "hunting wild animals and Indians", the general attitude towards the indigenous populations in general and when seeing the timeline you can see often they were squatting on Native lands and forcefully taking it from them, finding out as others have mentioned how much is inaccurate (the whole episode with the bloody Benders doesn't work as they weren't there then, and so on). Trying to replace in my mind into historical fiction, as the new ones with her older family obviously are, has been hard as it was such a part of my formative years. I remember getting it at 7 or 8 from my mother, I'll probably wait longer to give it to my kids as I'll want them to old enough the problems and issues with the language and manifest destiny attitude. Might start with the great grandmother ones that are obviously fiction, may be easier that way.

georgian, I am so jealous! Your dissertation/blog sound awesome, that must be so much fun to write.

moon - I haven't been to Boston's house but I really want to go sometime. I think her quilts are beautiful and amazing to think she was a very elderly lady working in a house with no central heating (12th century doesn't run to it!).

good ... oh, yes. sad I think the bit I find hardest is Laura wanting a 'papoose' for herself, which I found really strange.

chocolatecheesecake Tue 18-Sep-12 07:19:36

You've inspired me to reread the LIW and the Anne books, and to add more destinations to my "when the DCs are older" holiday list. Thanks!

moondog Tue 18-Sep-12 07:20:13

Georgian, truly!!?
Blog link please. smile

TheApprentice Tue 18-Sep-12 07:40:35

Ooh, this is all so interesting but I have to go to work! I will be back and read properly later.

thewhistler Tue 18-Sep-12 08:43:07

Pharisee, who were the Benders?

zzzzz Tue 18-Sep-12 09:17:15

I don't remember the benders either.

I think wanting her own baby and to carry it on her back was quite a normal reaction for a little girl? I didn't read anything mor into it than that.

How lovely that all the houses are still there.

I love how detailed the explanations of making cheese and tapping sugar were. I often think in a post war emergency these wold be the books to hav a your side......though our teeny ornamental Maple looks less than promising!

zzzzz Tue 18-Sep-12 09:18:02

Sorry, typo horror. I need to get on with the house.

zzzz, I love the idea of you trying to extract maple syrup from your ornamejtal tree!

OK, here, at the risk of outing myself, are the blogs:
1. The travel blog from last year: http//

2. The 'everyday' blog, sort of an homage to LHOTP but mainly very parochial and chock-full of shocking typos:

Second attempt at linking to the blog you actually want to read:

Prarieflower Tue 18-Sep-12 12:50:43

How did I miss this thread? I adored both the books and the seriesblush.My mum made my sister and I Laura and Mary rag dolls complete with bloomers,bonnet,freckles,plaits,pinafore-the lot.We also had gorgeous patchwork quilts.I tried pouring maple syrup into snow last winter to make that candy they did but it didn't work.<sigh>

I used to be obsessed with the idea of the covered wagon.Recently found out an ancestor was a pioneer that went West and"discovered" Yosemite.

Would love to do a big trip right across the States,one of my dc8 is the same[he's planned the route,although it keeps going up and down as he thinks of more things to see].

Moon tell me more re your trip(if you don't mind).Need ideas on how to fund such a trip<sigh>,would love to go for 2 months.

<off to Google where the hell Missouri is to add to the map and to look at Georgian's blog>

zzzzz Tue 18-Sep-12 13:07:00

Well it could be the wind, but I am pretty sure the ornamental twig maple is shaking! grin

I too have a covered wagon fetish. I am constantly trying to persuade Dh that we should create a wagon train.

You need to boil the maple syrup till it is very thick to hit snow candy level.

WhyTheBigGoldPaws Tue 18-Sep-12 13:30:43

What a lovely thread! I love these books, read the early ones to DD not so long ago but have never got round to the later ones - can forsee a LOT of titles going on my Amazon wishlist! I love the bit when Mr Edwards is Santa Claus and also when Laura gets the fur muff and cape from the Christmas tree and is so happy, without knowing or caring that it's second hand and has been donated by someone better off.

Also adored Anne of Green Gables (still need to read a few of the later ones of those too), quite enjoyed the What Katy Did series but found them a little bit pious, and of course loved Little Women etc - it was a toss up when my DD was born whether she'd be named Beth or Amy smile

Laura's house is absolutely beautiful, I would love to go there - in my head I am imagining some kind of literary tour of the US/Canada taking in Missouri, Concord, PE Island and no doubt a few others, sounds as though I would have a few willing travelling companions!

mignonette Tue 18-Sep-12 13:38:23


I envy you having the freedom to use these books as part of your dissertation. My friend is reading English and American Lit and has had her proposal for a dissertation based upon LIW books alongside other children's literature of the time turned down. She argued that if one doesn't contribute to academic debate then how will an adequate body of sources develop?

Did you get the green light easily? My friend would be interested to know. Her Dissertation supervisor says that first degree dissertations do not have the academic rigour to truly form part of the body of resources/sources. My friend's retort -depends upon the quality of the work!

LettyAshton Tue 18-Sep-12 14:04:47

Just found this thread.

I am beside myself. I have long wished to visit the Little House on the Prairie museum and when I do so I plan to buy a "Pa's fiddle fridge magnet" ! Actually from my wanderings around t'internet I have seen there are several museums: are the others worth a look does anyone know? I am dreaming of a 50th birthday trip (gives me, ahem, a couple of years to save up...)

I started a thread a while ago suggesting that Pa Was Unreasonable. He did not have four sons, he had four daughters, one of whom was blind and another sickly. He was not an uneducated man and could have secured (which he did from time to time) an office job, rather than trying to set up homesteads and farms here, there and everywhere. If Ma had been on MN we'd have all been baying "Leave the bastard!"

I am reading the books to dd and just at the point where Almanzo has proposed. I was trying to explain to dd that in those times early marriage was quite the norm, and Laura leaving home would have meant one less mouth to feed, especially as Mary would have been costing some. Dd also keeps interrupting that although we have to sympathise with Mary because she's blind, she wants to punch her she's so smug!

issimma Tue 18-Sep-12 14:10:23

Best thread ever. Spent DD's naptime reading it - hope she kips a while longer so I can read the blogs and articles linked.

Prarieflower Tue 18-Sep-12 14:17:04

I sooooo want a Pa's fiddle fridge magnet too and a bonnet for dd.

Do any of you read the Soulemama blog.She's a LIW fan(does make one feel hugely inadequate though)and makes fab quilts!grin

The Bloody Benders were real serial killers. It is said that they were in the original Little House on the Prairie but were omitted as inappropriate for kids (which raises a lot of eyebrows...). They were included later in "A Pioneer Girl" (written by Laura and Rose) and discussed at length in a famous speech where she was discussing how everything she wrote was true, but she took out things kids shouldn't know even if she did know them as a kid. In the speech and The Pioneer Girl she discussed Pa and the Bloody Benders - but later it was revealed that it couldn't have happened as they weren't in the area when the Bloody Benders were, the timelines of both give no overlap. Following the timeline also shows a lot of other issues, mostly with them breaking treaties with the indigenous populations.


LaundryFairy Tue 18-Sep-12 14:40:41

I think that Pa probably had some of the wanderlust and desire for adventure that many homesteaders had. My great grandparents came up from the Satates to settle claims in Canada, but they did so for the adventure and free land - not because they were particularly poorly off where they lived in Illinois. Apparently, my Great Grandfather wanted to move on again from their first home in Saskatchewan and carry on up further north, but my great Grandmother put her foot down!

LettyAshton Tue 18-Sep-12 14:55:35

I have just read all the links on this thread. Fascinating and illuminating.

Bunbaker Tue 18-Sep-12 19:06:01

"although we have to sympathise with Mary because she's blind, she wants to punch her she's so smug!"

I know what you mean. I am still reading LHOTP to DD, so it is before Mary goes blind. DD keeps comparing her her to Perfect Peter in Horrid Henry.

I am so looking forward to rereading all the other books and reading some of the later ones and biographies that I haven't read. This is a fantastic thread.

thewhistler Tue 18-Sep-12 19:16:51

But Mary eventually recognises that in the last walk they take before Laura gets married. And says one shouldn't worry so much about being good. That's the moment when I like her.

moondog Tue 18-Sep-12 20:39:14

Prairie, I go to the States a lot as since university, my husband and I have worked in a wonderful summer camp in the Blue Ridge mountains there and now we go and work while the children are campers which suits me fine as I am not a lie about in the sun type.So this year, my husband was working on the farm (which I often do) and I was running the gristmill and troutpond.

This is where we work and I love it so much

Then we travel and go and visit friends. Our connection goes back over 20 years so we have lots of people to see.
We took 3 weeks to drive from North Carolina to Georgia, then to Rocky Ridge, Hannibal (Mark Twain's birthplace) St Louis, Springfield Illinois (Abe Lincoln museum), Kentucky, West Virginia, New Jersey shore and NYC.
My dh is self employed and I get long holidays.

There was nofiddle magnet at Rocky Ridge or I would have bought it (magnets are the only souveniers I get, hickory nuts from RR being the exception) and I have one which is a facsimile of some commemorative LHOTP stamps, with the quote 'To make the most of what we have'.

I recommend The Wilder Life as a very funny and affectionate study in LHOTP obsessiveness. You lot would love it. She goes mad and buys churns on ebay.

I'd murder to make my own maple syrup.

LaundryFairy Tue 18-Sep-12 21:14:13

At my old primary school we used to tap the many maple trees on the school grounds. It was mostly for educational purposes as you need an awful lot of sap to make any decent quantity of syrup.

mignonette It was my second degree and I was given the go ahead, once I could show that there was both enough secondary literature and yet enough gaps in the existing research. This was in, I think, 2001 or 2002. A lot has been added to the topic since but your friend is right. My tutor pretty much said that he wanted to read my diss on the topic, as it was unique (British university). I was the only one of my cohort to do a diss based entirely on secondary literature and after that, they banned anyone else from doing that. It was a course in librarianship, so I was being a bit cheeky!

Ooh - I think dd has a Pa's fiddle magnet! Did I mention that on the blog? I can't remember. We didn't look round the museum in Walnut Grove (I bought a Charlotte keyring in the gift shop) because we only had a few hours to spare and I wanted to spend them at the creek. I confess, paddling in Plum Creek was one of the best things I have ever done.

Prairieflower, I tried the maple toffee too, with equally disappointing results! Next time, I will try zzzz's tip. Grandma boiled it, didn't she?

Ooh - guess what I just discovered? Helen Dore Boyle, author of the Sue Barton series (can you still get them?), was Rose Wilder Lane's friend, travelling companion and housemate. She lived at Rocky Ridge too. Rose and Laura seem to have had a very difficult relationship. I'm reading 'Little House, Long Shadow.' I recommend it, but only if you're ready to have a few long-cherished beliefs questioned andxre-examined.

I never knew that, Georgian - that's fascinating!! I love the Sue Barton books - I really wanted nurse training and nursing to be just like in the books.

Pleasenomorepeppa Tue 18-Sep-12 22:02:16

Can anyone put on a list of further reading/biography books please!!!

LettyAshton Wed 19-Sep-12 09:47:13

I still maintain that Mary is a bit of a prima donna. I got a lump in my throat when I was reading out the bit where Ma reads Mary's letter saying she is not coming home from college for the summer. "All the light went out of the room" - I felt Ma's pain. And after Pa had spent all Laura's earnings on an organ, too.

HellonHeels Wed 19-Sep-12 09:53:16

Mary was just being a typical self-absorbed teenager then, from sound of things!

What about Carrie? Is it just me who gets the impression that after being really strict with Mary and Laura, and very keen on their education, Ma didn't have so much energy for Carrie/Grace?

I am cringing at myself, but I remember there's a bit where Carrie says 'don't' when she means 'doesn't and 'him' when she means 'he', and Ma corrects her grammar ... but I was shocked because you get the impression Laura is so nicely spoken and has such perfect grammar drummed into her. grin

HellonHeels Wed 19-Sep-12 09:55:08

Actually Mary was quite awful in the early books, she was horrible to Laura and wound her up over having prettier hair etc. Then when Laura lashed out she got into trouble.

Even as a child reader I wondered why Ma and Pa never had it out with Mary about being mean.

LettyAshton Wed 19-Sep-12 10:01:04

Yes, although it's not explicitly said, Laura is making the point quite clearly that Carrie and Grace were allowed to be children for a lot longer than Mary and she were. There's Laura doing endless chores and having to put her shoulder to the wheel to help Pa, yet the younger girls get away with just the occasional bit of bed-making.

Plus ca change, I suppose!

Yes, exactly.

I think I feel a bit sorry for Ma and Pa later on - when Laura goes driving the horses Almanzo hasn't yet broken, and she has to jump into the buggy when they stop without getting her hoop skirts trapped! I mean, can you imagine letting your 15 year old do that? You would be soooo scared for them.

Inspired by this thread, I have ordered one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder biographies. Sadly I am off to visit my mum for three days, so unless it arrives in the next half an hour or so, I am going to have to wait until I get back to read it. sad

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Wed 19-Sep-12 14:07:30

So thrilled by this thread, I've been reading LIW to the dds (5 and 7) for a while. We're on Silver Lake and they're APPALLED that Mary is blind and nothing can fix it. The books have helped encourage dds to make their own beds (!) and eat sweetcorn, I'm definitely getting the cook book as we've been planning a Laura and Mary day where I shall con them into eating all sorts of esoteric stuff. Going to buy all the biographies now. My plan is to stop reading after Long Winter as iirc last two books really are for an older audience.

I never had the chance to read the LIW books to my dc - one downside of 3 boys. sad

TunipTheVegemal Wed 19-Sep-12 16:26:38

My oldest nephew loves them - he dressed up as Pa for World Book Day one year, with a beard and a cardboard axe.
TBH I think SIL had decided to read them to her boys whether they liked them or not....

HumphreyCobbler Wed 19-Sep-12 16:55:46

Dh had them read to him as a child, and he loved them. He and his brothers were always vexed there was no mention of toilet arrangements though grin

piprabbit Wed 19-Sep-12 17:05:24

Bears, panthers, a pig on a sledge, naughty boys getting stung. I think most little boys would enjoy The Big Woods book. DS will be on the receiving end shortly grin.

HumphreyCobbler Wed 19-Sep-12 17:10:18

Farmer Boy was DH's favourite

thewhistler Wed 19-Sep-12 18:21:23

Ds loved them. Funny enough he loved the "Laura and Mary" stories more than Farmer Boy, and we still reference them. I read them to him because he is dyslexic and I remember a friend if my parents doing the same for their dyslexic son who adored them because the visual side is so clear and you can make so much from them, covered wagons, log cabins, etc.

I think I read the long winter most often. It was a horrid shock to read that Almanzo never met a blanket Indian in De Smet. But another instance of Laura's sympathy with the Indians. She would have been happier, on one level, in Oregon.

mignonette Wed 19-Sep-12 18:25:29

*Georgian- Good for you. I'd love to read it.

Another friend has just been turned down to do a Masters on Michael Morpurgo. She is gutted.

renaldo Wed 19-Sep-12 18:52:39

Am loving this thread . The long winter is an amazing work, beloved by me and dd13 who has read all the books too and shares my passion. Mumsnetl trip to Missouri anyone?

Sabriel Wed 19-Sep-12 19:44:00

OOh just found this thread. DH finds my obsession with LHOTP slightly odd. I actually preferred the TV series to the books (tho I knew loads was changed) simply because I found the language of the books too young, even as a child. It's a shame there isn't a more detailed adult level version of the books.

What I did find spooky was re-reading the books as a TA, and reading - I think - The Long Hard Winter. They'd been snowed in, almost died, then later had plagues of locusts and no end of other hazards. Then in Y8 History being given a book about that period of American history and reading about all these things actually happening as she'd described them.

I did a bit of research about the family gene-wise and discovered that Caroline and the girls had inherited diabetes. Further googling suggested that the form of diabetes they had can cause infertility and other problems. I always found it odd, and a bit sad, that of 5 children they only ended up with one grandchild, who then herself had no children.

Chandon Wed 19-Sep-12 21:59:19

yes, the long winter, the hardship, the grain in the wall, the dignity of Pa when demanding his share! Powerful.

moondog Wed 19-Sep-12 22:16:23

In the museum they have twists of hay to show you nwhat it was like.They even, check this!! have stacked up by the stove wood that Almanzo cut himself.

The brutality of some of the books is shocking. In Farmer Boy, we hear how Almanzo's teacher keeps a bullwhip in his desk and whips the big boys who come and try to beat him up (I think I mentioned this earlier-I am lost in LHOTP reverie). Graphic description of whip cutting into flesh and making it bleed.

My 8 year old bloodthirsty ds loved it!
Love the blog and picture Mrs Ruby! (GMt5)
They called Helen Dore Boyle 'Troub' for trouble.
Maybe she and Rose were romantically involved?
She kicked Laura and Almanzo out of the farmhouse and cosied up there with her mates for seven years, moaning about what a burden her paretns were too here, then effed off and didn't see them for 12 years.

LF, you lucky sod, tapping maple trees. envy

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 20-Sep-12 10:54:52

dd 13 - renaldo? Really?!

I love this thread! Thanks Moondog for starting it. I only really discovered the books in adulthood, so I'm not sure if I'd get the same amazing rush that some of you have described on visiting all the LIW sites, but I'm still desperate to see them. I was a mad Katy and Anne fan though. grin

Georgian, I'm now avidly reading your holiday blog blush (am not stalker-type, honest) and really enjoying it. Very envy of you all camping at the homestead and being able to 'live' in some of the buildings after hours!

I think I need to re-read these. Now. It's just the weather for it, too. <ignores small messy toddler creating havoc and older boy who will need picking up from school soon.>

Asmywhimsytakesme Thu 27-Sep-12 23:00:15

Lovely thread - thank you moondog

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